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Open-Source Streaming Video, Sans Plug-Ins 84

gravityworshipper writes: "Nice new project, Sureplayer, making a GPL MPEG-1 streaming video encoder that plays through any browser with Java. The Ogg Vorbis people may have something wonderful someday, but this is already sort of working (and has a catchier name). The sound still sucks (doesn't work at all in N4.7X for Linux), but they're looking for people to help. I am tired of using (proprietary) Real and not being able to see Quicktime or Windows Media Player video at all in Linux. Sureplayer encoder/server is open source, so makes it easier and cheaper for indie artists to put video online, and easier for their work to be seen because no client download required, just a browser with Java. Real & MS & QT give away the client, then charge big $$ for encoding/server software, which users don't realize but video people do. I saw this is a NewsForge Report. Cool!"
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Open Source MPG Video Encoder

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Try MPlayer. Has what you want and plays better than all others anyway: http://thot.banki.hu/esp-team/MPlayer.html
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What I'd like to see is a browser that handles the rtsp:// protocol just like http and ftp, and an xanim that works on uncompleted files (for "streaming purposes", in the rare cases where I can't wait to see it). Much more important is the ability to preload a bunch of so-called "streaming video" to watch on my next coast-to-coast flight.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Folks, However, the QTSS supports other codecs and formats, including H.263 and soon MPEG-1 (QTSS 3.0, coming next month). And it does this with standard protocols, like RTP and RTSP. It's an absolutely doable free project to make a QuickTime Streaming Server-compatible player that can watch streams encoded with the H.263 codec. it's originally a videoconferencing technology, but works quite nicely, and definitely provides better quality at a given data rate than MPEG-1. Encoder is much faster than Sorenson Video 2, and quality is higher in some cases, like high motion and highly saturated colors. FWIW, H.263 is one of the ancestor technologies of the MPEG-4 video codec, and its bitstream is essentially a subset of MPEG-4's. It's a LOT closer to the real MPEG-4 spec than DivX, for example.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2001 @04:56AM (#259953)
    MS don't charge for the encoder, and Media Server is part of Win2k Advanced Server. Just to set that little point straight - they're still not linux-compatible, but they're cheap compared to Real (they have to be, that's how MS kills its competition in new arenas)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2001 @04:59AM (#259954)
    Don't lump QuickTime in with Real and MS. The QuickTime server is free (for Mac, Windows, Linux), and the encoding software is $29.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2001 @06:35AM (#259955)
    The Quicktime Streaming Server is free and works on Linux, OS X and NT. The encoding software is around $199 (not 'big bucks' in my book) and you don't even need to upgrade Quicktime to 'Pro' for $30 to watch streaming content. I'm using this combination and it kicks ass! Easy, cheap and effective - I'm maxxing out my 100Mbit connection no problem on an older G3 mac.
  • Not for video, though Monty has supposedly done a little work on that -- the Ogg folks are focusing on their audio stuff at the moment.
  • IE do ask you if you want to download a javaplugin if the applet is made with a later JDK. That's at least less work than it is to install the javaplugin on Netscape, so I don't see why you should go bashing IE specifically?
  • I meant the javaplugin [sun.com] available from Sun. Quite nice if you're developing applets for a closed group (as I am). It's available for IE, and Netscape and is very good to have. And atleast my IE6 asked me if I wanted to download the plugin when it encountered an applet written with JDK1.3. I agree with you on the Flash/Quicktime/Plugin vs Java discussion, but I'm afraid I've gone from being a longtime linux-zealot to actually defending MS (damn that w2k ;)) so I trigger easily when people rack down on IE "just because"; you have my apologies.
  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @08:06AM (#259959) Homepage
    Are we heading the same way as we did with open source email clients? Search on freshmeat and you can take your pick of a couple of hundred crap(*) mail clients, and maybe 2 or 3 good ones. And it seems we don't go a week without yet another open source media player (streaming or otherwise). Wouldn't it be more effective if all these projects were to merge and have a large number of developers working together?

    Sure, but what direction should this merged project take? You say there are only 2 or 3 "good ones" in the email clients section of freshmeat, and I agree, but I doubt your 2 or 3 are the same as my 2 or 3.

    What is best? What you like? What some author dictates? What Microsoft says we'll all have? The concept of "best" is personal. For example I use VIM and MUTT, and I think this pair is the "best" combo possible, but I don't think everyone would agree with me.

    Having 100 projects gives you choice, and this can be painful, but I'd rather have 100 projects that will make 100 people happy than 1 monolithic "best" project that makes nobody happy.

  • Looked more like 2 hands full worth to me.
  • by Ian Schmidt ( 6899 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:45AM (#259961)
    And to be even more accurate, MS recently started *paying* radio stations to use Media Server/.WMA audio. That's why a lot of stations recently dropped Real even though Real still has 90+% market share for streaming media (no station is suicidal enough to do that sort of thing otherwise).
  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @07:01AM (#259962)
    Hm. I'm trying the demos. Wow. So it has no timing synchronization. It shows each frame regardless of what the frame rate is supposed to be. Let's see. A tiny postage-stamp sized video frame, maybe 240x180, at 3fps (yes, 3fps) from a 350K stream. The commercial video players do better than this at 40K.

    I've seen better video performance at much lower bandwidth through server-side push of GIFs, Netscape 1.1 style. And that didn't need Java.

    Well, good luck to them.
  • by Cadre ( 11051 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @11:38AM (#259963) Homepage

    You were looking at the wrong page, in fact, you were probably at the wrong site completely...

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/projects/streaming / [apple.com]
    From that page: If you have registered with this site, you can download the source code for the Darwin Streaming Server 2.0.1 server and proxy.

    In fact, here is someone who has taken the source from the server and made several enchancements:
    http://home.pacbell.net/madgett/videod/ [pacbell.net]

  • I don't think there's a processor fast enough to handle video decoding via Java quite yet. It's a really strenuous task, one that every ounce of processor speed can be taken up.

    Past that... What about Quicktime? The players free. The streaming server is free. The server is opensource, so it runs or can run on just about any plaform available. The player is available for Windows and Mac OS, the two dominant client OSes....
  • by dennism ( 13667 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @07:38AM (#259965) Homepage
    While I'll grant you the point for saying QT isn't Linux compatible, you lose points for saying that creating QT media is expensive... last I checked, it just required QT Pro, $30. It's a simple registration key.

    Add in the fact that you can download the streaming server and run it under Linux for free. That would make Quicktime a very cheap option.

    Just not Linux friendly. But, the average video shop probally isn't going to care... they probally want to use their Macs for video production, and the higher ups want their videos to be available on Windows.
  • QuickTime has a text track that you can add on top of the regular video, for pseudo-close captioning. I think you'd have to futz around with one of the dev tools to synch it up, so it probably wouldn't work for live streaming. I haven't had time to check it out yet.

    PS. I was expecting some cool server enclosures when I clicked on your "nice rack" link, but all I got was a handful of Angelina Jolie. I guess things *do* work out for the best...


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • by dutky ( 20510 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @02:32PM (#259967) Homepage Journal

    Anyone notice that there is no encoding software* here, despite what the article summary says? While it might be nice to have a good, open source, streaming media player, what we really need is a fast and efficient (in terms of compressed file size) video encoder, preferably producing MPEG-1 streams. Without a good, real time, encoder, we can't produce our own video streams for our own purposes (I'd like to turn my Linux box into a digital VCR, personally).

    * For those who are easily confused by precise language: an encoder turns raw input data (video data, in this case) into some specific usable format (MPEG-1, MPEG-4, etc.) possibly applying some kind of compression. What the folks at sureplayer have produced is a decoder, which takes the encoded data stream and turns it back into something like the raw data stream.

  • well the point of pnm is so that people can't just download and redistribute your video files easily, I think. With http you paste and save-as, and then you don't need the server
  • I did some RealMedia stuff in high school. The major advantage of pnm:// for archived files is that http doesn't give you random access. You couldn't just jump to the middle of a video without downloading everything before that. Perhaps streaming video over FTP would work? (I know very little about protocols. Perhaps I am wrong that http doesn't allow starting a transfer mid-file?)


  • (1) OpenDivx != DivX. OpenDivX is 100% legal. DivX is a hacked version of Microsoft's MPEG 4 codec. OpenDivX isn't quite as good as DivX at the moment, but I'm sure it will get there soon enough.

    (2) If you believe MPEG-1 yields better quality than MPEG-4, then you're either on some bad drugs or you haven't got a clue what you're talking about. A good SBC DivX has *great* quality; give it 2 CDs for space and you practically have the DVD.

    / Peter Schuller
    E-Mail: peter.schuller@infidyne.com
    URL: http://www.scode.org
  • ...it sounds like you're SOL my friend.

    The OGG software is "already sort of working (and has a catchier name). The sound still sucks (doesn't work at all in N4.7X for Linux)"
    The above sounds infintely better than "a GPL MPEG-1 streaming video encoder that plays through any browser with Java."

    Unless of course I'm the only linux user who winds up cursing and sending netscape a 'kill -9' whenever I stumble across a page with Java on it.
  • I work at the UC Berkeley Multimedia Research Center (BMRC). One of the projects I help out with is Open Mash, which is an open source multimedia toolkit designed for streaming media. Check it out at http://www.openmash.org/. Includes encoders, decoders, etc. It's pretty much used with multicast/MBone. The toolkit is supported on FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, and Windows, but you could probably get it to work on whatever platform you're using if you have the right tools installed.
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @07:30AM (#259974)
    There's an opensource MPEG-4 streaming project that uses the Apple Quicktime/MPEG-4 streaming server here:

    http://mpeg4ip.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @07:54AM (#259975)
    DivX is the Microsoft codec. OpenDivX (which is incompatible with DivX) is based on the MoMuSys source code, but I think they've rewritten most if not all of the decoder. The problem with MPEG-4 is the same as LZW, GIF, MP3 (why is it always compression algorithms???) - it's patented and it doesn't matter if you wrote the code from scratch - you'd still owe royalties.
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @07:34AM (#259976)
    The Ogg Tarkin project is a video codec. There's no web page yet that I know of, but there's a mailing list at:

    http://www.xiph.org/archives/tarkin-dev/index.html [xiph.org]

  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @07:43AM (#259977)
    I agree - stick with DivX or some truely open source CODEC like ffmpeg (also MPEG-4 compatible) or MPEG2Movie whiuch achieves similar compression (but better speed) in an MPEG-2 format. OpenDivX isn't even MPEG-4 - it's just a basic half-pel motion comp MPEG-1 algorithm plus a deblocking filter. It's amazing how many people confuse the bitstream formats with the codec features - why not call OpenDivX Quicktime since the MPEG-4 bitstream format is Quicktime? Sigh.
  • Platform: w2k
    Browser: mozilla 0.8.1
    Video card: Matrox G450 dual-head

    Doesn't work. I loaded up trusty IE 5.5 and it worked fine. Also worked in Opera 5.

    So I don't think the site was slashdotted cause it ran in two of my three browsers. So much for run everywhere... :-(

  • Here's a real alternative to plugins (or Java): www.iomojo.com or here [iomojo.com] Was just released a few days ago, but it rocks!
  • by SydBarrett ( 65592 ) on Sunday April 29, 2001 @02:44AM (#259980)
    Yeah, RealMedia streaming is basicly watch/listen now, but don't bother downloading. When you have a slow modem connectiom, it sucks. If you could download the whole thing, you could watch it when you wanted, and you wouldn't be concerned with server/phone mess-ups, just the speed of your hard drive which is lightyears better.

    There was/is some software that would do it for ya. It's called StreamBox VCR, and it can download most streaming content (Real, MS Media, etc.) and does both video and audio. I have a few Art Bell shows saved on my hard drive, along with some stuff from ifilm.com. I even have a copy of "City of the Living Dead" downloaded from those free movie websites. All due to VCR. he main problem is that VCR is Windows only, and it very beta. The only useable versions are cracked betas, which tells you have reliable it is. Even the software has strange options like "Keep trying untill program crashes". The streaming movies take a little bit of "hacking" to use in some cases. You have parse their goofy javascript stuff and do abit of work to find the address of their streaming server.

  • Actually, the Encoding Software is only $30, and is QuickTime Pro. If you want live encoding/streaming, the you do need to spend the couple hundred bucks to buy Sorenson Broadcaster.

    If you need to clean up the video, and want to be able to do batch processing, etc.. then you would want Media Cleaner, and this is more expensive. But you can do steaming with existing media for the cost of of $30 of software (QuickTime Pro + Darwin Streaming Software) and relatively cheap hardware (my favorite for this is an iMac running MacOS X Server... portable/luggable and stable... add a second iMac with Sorenson Broadcaster and you have a mobile streaming setup).
  • I never said it was unconditionally free, just wanted to point out it wasn't as bad as the poster had said. Almost everyone who streams doesn't charge ATM.

    Ofcourse you need a windows server....but I'm guessing most people wanting to stream windows media already have a windows server. You can also always find a service provider who is willing to stream as well.
  • by TummyX ( 84871 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:42AM (#259983)
    Real & MS & QT give away the client, then charge big $$ for encoding/server software, which users don't realize but video people do.

    Are you one of those people?
    You can get the encode and server software for windows media from microsoft for free here [microsoft.com] Look under Window Media Tools and Services.
  • A lot of people want to stream live video. The problem with MPEG4 (Dixv, OpenDivx, WMA8, etc) is that the compression is awfully processor intensive. Try encoding into one of those formats on your machine and see how many fps you get. Now when our graphics cards can do on-the-fly MPEG4 compression...

  • Real & MS & QT give away the client, then charge big $$ for encoding/server software

    Darwin Streaming Server [apple.com] available for download.

    "Goose... Geese... Moose... MOOSE!?!?!"
  • Ogg Vorbis has a good thing now. They may not be streaming yet (AFAIK), but OGG's rule! I was able to fit 15 albums on one CD-R with OGG. And the ogg's encoded at a lower rate sound just as good, if not a bit better then MP3, in my opinion. NO it's not as good as the CD, but it's close enough to the CD for me and my 30 year old ears. Seems to me that the Ogg Folks my have streaming RSN if they don't already.
  • Umm...but all of the MPEG-x formats are lossy. They differ in degree of lossy-ness. Yes, MPEG-4 throws away more data (and also compresses better) than MPEG-1. But I'd say MPEG-4 is much better than some of the streaming format out there now, sometimes you could barely make out a blob of a head on some of these (new fangled) Internet streaming videos.

    As far as open source MPEG-4 goes, that's why I brought up OpenDivX - at least from the look of it, it seems like an Open Source MPEG-4 codec that was originally stolen from Microsoft that they are trying to re-create so as to be non-stolen.

  • Why is that? From the looks of the description of the project, it seems to be open source - at least that's what they say. I'm not sure what you mean by 'proprietary' vis-a-vis OpenDivX. Is it proprietary? How so? (I really don't see how it is from looking at the info at the site).
  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:15AM (#259989)
    MPEG-1 is a bit older and not as efficient as the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 formats. So why not use MPEG-4? Project Mayo [projectmayo.com] is working on OpenDivX, the an Open Source MPEG-4 codec. It'd seem to me that they should try to marry the two together, to use the OpenDivX on this streaming server. Unless there's some technical issue that I don't know about. Remember that MPEG-4 can reduce a DVD (~4.7GB?) down to a CD size (~700MB-800MB) with only a little degradation in quality and possibly size of the original image.
  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:39AM (#259990)
    If not MPEG-4 (they can certainly make it legal, if they wanted to). MPEG-4 itself doesn't encourage piracy. Its characteristics allows pirates to copy DVD movies and such much more easily. But what we are talking about here is streaming, and it seems to me that for streaming purposes, the smaller the better, no?

    And besides, they could certainly at least use MPEG-2? DVD's quality seems pretty good on MPEG-2. Why MPEG-1 is my question.

    The other thing is, VCDs used MPEG-1 and was extremely lossy and definitely encouraged piracy (people all over Southeast Asia watched VCDs and DVDs more than VHS) as well.

    I've seen some of the DivX encoded MPEG-4 videos, and it is not as lossy as you state. They are much better than the VCDs. They have pixelating artifacts when there's fast motion, but for slow motion or relatively still scenes, the quality is almost inditinguishable from DVD quality.

    MPEG-4 itself is a standard, not a Microsoft IP, just like MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and the forthcoming MPEG-7. DivX ;-) was stolen from Microsoft's own MPEG-4 codec, and that's why they are trying to re-write it to move away from that.

    That said, I still say that OpenDivX's MPEG-4 codec would be really great for streaming once they have it redone. Streaming and MPEG-4 do not encourage piracy by themselves per se (geez, I'm beginning to sound like the NRA - 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people').

  • This seems to be a problem that plagues small open-source projects in general. Look at how many web-based BBS/forum software there is on sourceforge and how many new ones are being created monthly. It's counterproductive, none of the software ever progresses past a certain maturity level.


  • If you think the windows media server is unconditionally free, you'd better look at that licensing agreement a little closer. As soon as you start charging for streams, you'd better open those purse strings because MS is going to be all up in there.

  • by sracer9 ( 126645 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @08:08AM (#259993)
    You're right, the Quicktime Streaming Server is inexpensive enough to deploy, but how much does it cost to get a Quicktime player with Sorensen codec for Linux?
    Oh, you can't get one? That seems too expensive to me then...

    I'm sorry, but I won't play that game.

    I'm tired of the "We'll make a server for you since there's sooo many linux servers out there. No client package though, cause nobody uses linux for the desktop." ala Valve - Halflife etc....
  • As someone who does a lot of Java development work, I have to say I whole heartedly agree. Java has changed *SO* much for the better since the versions that most browser JVMs use. Applets suffer from a *lot* of problems, and from an "open source" standpoint, Flash is actually must closer than Java is. The SWF spec was released by MM quite some time ago, and enough reverse engineering of it has occured that you don't even have to really deal with MM anymore at all (Look at the Ming library for PHP for example)

    What this all gets down to really is feature bloat. The web was not made for, nor can it handle true CD-ROM style interactivity. It just can't. A new protocol from the ground up needs to be built. Period.

    Flash, and Shockwave, and even Java are cool, and can do some neat stuff, but why in the HELL should that kind of user experience require a "plugin" of any sort in this day and age? HTTP is great for what it was made for, HTML. Even basic LAYOUT required a whole new spec though (CSS) I really hope someone else sees how much the web resembles a ball of duct tape right now, and starts working on the next generator protocol and "browser" soon... The closest thing I've seen so far is Curl, which has the worst licensing agreement I have *ever* seen.

  • For this to succeed, there would have to be some sort of method to 'subscribe' to the multicasted video. That is, I'm sure many internet providers will NOT want gigs and gigs of bandwidth (that they pay for) being used for video that potentially no one is watching.

    It would probably be easier just to set up re-broadcasting services at major 'net centres, - large colocation facilities, for example. That way a single stream could be sent out to a coordinating server, that then sends the stream out to a bunch of other servers (spread around the globe) that clients then connect to to stream the video.

    Of course, there could always be an extra layer in there, where particularly frugal ISP's set up their own rebroadcasters, effectively cutting the traffic they would be paying for by a factor of the number of viewers.

    Unfortunately, systems like these do not lend themselves to the low end user. It would be expensive (or at least difficult) to set something like this up - but I don't think router-level multicasting is really going to catch on.

  • by enneff ( 135842 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @06:03AM (#259996) Homepage
    Somehow I don't think giving away the encoder/player is going to make it cheaper to publish video on the net.

    The bandwidth is still the major inhibiting factor.

  • An example of one that uses NO JAVA or plugins is here [vidcard.com]
  • Definately very impressing. I wrote quite a few applets and know how tricky it can be, to get them running on all potential platforms. Considering the complexity of the code, these folks did a very good job so far. The applet runs nice on my Linux box (NS 4.0.5pre1). Keep up the good work!
  • Wrongo, your statement is misleading, the server is opensource, yes.. but not the codec... Thats a huge difference, Huge.
  • Okay, not only is the Quicktime server free, but Quicktime is open source. This is such a pointless thread, asking where to find open source streaming video when it already exists!

    http://developer.apple.com/quicktime/ [apple.com]

    Just three days ago I wanted to put up some quick streaming video on my website. I borrowed a friend's DV camera, went out and videotaped, made a movie with iMovie on an iMac DV (which was really easy), made a quick reference movie and poof the thing was online and streaming from a G4 under OS X Server. I have to say, I'm very wary of Macs, but the ease of this process really impressed me.

  • Oops. Somebody moderate me down "-1 for listening to Apple Campus Rep's hype."
  • by jon_adair ( 142541 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @08:38AM (#260002) Homepage

    Real & MS & QT give away the client, then charge big $$ for encoding/server software...

    Of those three, I use Real's stuff most of the time. They at least attempt to provide players for platforms other than Windows. A lot of people stream RealMedia for free, especially for low demand applications.

    You can download a free version of their encoder (Real System Producer Basic) if you search the web site hard enough (the bottom of this page: http://www.realnetworks.com/developers/index.html [realnetworks.com]. The limitations don't seem that severe. The worst is that the encoded file intentionally won't play with older versions of the player. Hint: if you search hard enough, you can find older versions of Real Producer Basic that help avoid that problem.

    Streaming Real video or audio over HTTP is free and works from most web servers. To do it, you name the actual RealMedia file with a .ra extension and built a text file with a .ram extension. Inside that text file, put the full URL to the .ra file. Then link to the text file. Sure it's supposed to be less efficient than "real" streaming, but most people don't care.

  • Read their license agreement.

    Rate me [picture-rate.com] on picture-rate.com
  • by elegant7x ( 142766 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @10:54AM (#260004)
    Was anyone else a little disturbed by that Perl Harbor Video? "Hating is not enough", "Remember the vengeance in our hearts" "When you buy bonds this week, remember that they are vengeance bonds".

    Sheesh, talk about disturbing propaganda, the video makes our country sound like it's run by a bunch of klingons :P

    Rate me [picture-rate.com] on picture-rate.com
  • I see only binaries and headers. This is not open source... The point about open source is that you have the source: you can debug it, use it, change it -- heck, even the ability to recompile on a new platform is worth something. I have none of these with Apple's SDK.

  • avifile is a some "grey area" way to view divx:) and windows media content, but if works well, and can even stream windows media over the internet.

    It does not work as a plug-in, so there are still many pages where you have to read the html to watch win media files, or use the "run external palyer option", but it does work.
  • by DmitriA ( 199545 ) on Sunday April 29, 2001 @12:36PM (#260007)
    The problem with open-source codecs is that almost all good compression algorithms have been patented already, so unless someone comes up with a truly revolutionary way of compressing audio or video AND releases it into public-domain, we won't have any good open-source codecs for another 15-20 years or so (whenever all these patents start to expire and are released into public-domain)
  • Hmm, I wasn't aware of any IE JDK 1.1 update. Are you referring to the MS JVM update? It's my understanding that that's just an update to the JVM implementation (fallout from the MS/Sun war on Java), but it does not upgrade to the 1.1 JDK. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    I'm not actually trying to bash IE... I actually like IE's JVM better than I like Netscape's (it's far more stable). But it is old, and it won't be updated, so you have to restrict yourself whenever you decide to develop for it.

    I'm not bashing Java either.. I develop in (server-side) Java pretty much exclusively now. What I am bashing are people who claim that their Java-based applets are intrinsically better than things like Flash or QuickTime because it "does not use plugins". That is simply misleading.

  • That's exactly my point... you can't simply "run any applet" because the JVMs installed in today's browsers aren't up to par.

    - You can't run any applet that's written for JDK 1.1 or later (current version will be 1.4 soon) in any version of IE or Netscape before 6.0
    - Bugs in the JVMs (especially the Netscape JVMs) mean that applets frequently crash, or produce different results than what you would expect.

    To get around this, you have to install your own JVM, which means the user is doing as much work as if they installed a regular plugin in the first place.

  • Argh... there's a link to "download software" right on that page... that's no better than a plugin or a Java applet... you still have to download a program, configure it, work out incompatibilites, etc.

    The whole point of saying "no plugin required" is that you provide some sort of functionality to the user without the user having to do anything extra in order to get it; it's a totally painless and universal process. Unfortunately, that limits you to some very basic technologies; HTML, animated GIFs, maybe JavaScript. Anything else needs user involvement to some degree.

  • by CraigoFL ( 201165 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMkanook.net> on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:29AM (#260011)
    It bothers me that things like this are being promoted as "no plugins required" because they use Java.

    A Java applet is effectively the same as a plugin such as Flash or QuickTime. You still have to download the player program. In Java it's distributed as CLASS files (often packaged in a Java ARchive); with "normal" plugins it's an executable file.

    You still have to worry about program size (how long will it take to download over a slow connection), versioning (what if the user has an old version of the player, or what if a newer version won't play older content), and security (what if the user disables, refuses to download, or does not grant the proper access rights to the program).

    There are some advantages to using Java:

    1. The applets are generally smaller and quicker to download (since a large part of the class library already exists on the user's system.
    2. You can develop a single program that will work on all platforms (see note below)
    3. Installation of the applet is generally transparent to the user, but this is mostly because the applets are using the old Java 1.0 security model that doesn't require any user intervention, and thus poses great restrictions on what the applet can do.
    However, because of the horrible implementations of JVMs in the major browsers, point #2 is pretty much moot; you can't be sure that your applet will work correctly in every browser/platform combination without extensive testing.

    Add to that the fact that the most popular browser family in the world (Internet Explorer) runs a Java version that is horribly out-of-date, and will never upgrade. So you're always stuck using the oldest and ugliest class library; at least you can hope for a recent version when using Flash.

    You can get around all of these problems by requiring that the user have Sun's Java Plugin (a browser plugin that has the most recent JVM, and a standardized implementation). Of course, this defeats the entire purpose of not requiring plugins to view the content.

    So please, all web developers, stop saying that your software doesn't require a plugin. You're only right on a technicality; the net effect to your users is still the same.

  • by techathead ( 201626 ) <tommyy@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:24AM (#260012)
    The quicktime server is free from apple and runs on linux and win nt. It is also open source and the encoder is 30 bucks as quicktime pro. That still doesn't get you linux play back yet, but I bet it is in the works. only real is the truely expensive option.
  • They are making high bandwith profiles of MPEG-4 to replace even MPEG-2 for archival use ya know.

    Its not about how much data you discard, its about how visually important that data is. MPEG-4 discriminates a lot better in what to throw away as MPEG-1.
  • by PinkyAndThaBrain ( 206650 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @06:43AM (#260014)
    No it isnt... divx is the preferred format for ripping. OpenDivx is just a basic implementation of MPEG-4 v1. The rest of the world is moving on, m$ (of which divx was ripped) and 3ivx are at version 3 for instance.

    OpenDivx is missing a lot of advanced compression features, and its going to get sued to hell for contributory patent infringement if they get succesfull.
  • It's not a matter of MPEG-4 being a better format than MPEG-1. MPEG-4 is lossy and throws away much more data than MPEG-1. MPEG-1 is better suited for quality TV recording than MPEG-4.

    Although, for streaming, MPEG-4 would be a much better format. I don't know of any well known open source MPEG-4 players (MS's WMF has a very similar format).

  • by King of the World ( 212739 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @04:55AM (#260016) Journal
    Ogg is the name for the suite of formats. Vorbis is just one-the audio component. Ogg Vorbis doesn't have anything to do with video.
  • I agree with a lot you say. With e-mail this is no big problem because everyone uses the one he feels comfortable with and nothing else.

    However when it comes to multimedia codecs it is extremly importand to have standards. And it's not enough that the OpenSource/FreeSoftware community accept it as a standard. The rest of the world must to.

    So what we need is an Open/Free codec that will be so good that the windows-people wil use it even if it doesn't ship with windows (DivX managed to do that). And then we would finaly be able to not feel so "left out" for using an alternativ OS.
  • Why talk bad about ogg vorbis ?

    I am sure once the Sureplayer really takes off, it will use ogg vorbis encodigns as well.

    In addition, Sureplayer is paralysed because better encoding formats are patented and require a license fee.

  • by gimpimp ( 218741 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:20AM (#260019) Homepage
    Are we heading the same way as we did with open source email clients? Search on freshmeat and you can take your pick of a couple of hundred crap(*) mail clients, and maybe 2 or 3 good ones. And it seems we don't go a week without yet another open source media player (streaming or otherwise). Wouldn't it be more effective if all these projects were to merge and have a large number of developers working together?
    More work would get done, more features would be added, and we might even end up rivaling wma, et al.

    *No disrepect to the authors, but their efforts would be more rewarding if they took part in a group based project.
  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:13AM (#260020)
    If I remember correctly OpenDivx is an open-source version of MPEG4, I know drivers are available for Windows, Macs, and Linux....Sound and video quality is great, esp since that's the preferred format for ripping DVDs) and compression is about the same as MPEG
  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:20AM (#260021)
    actually the speed of java has increased a lot lately due to optimized compilers. Yes it's still slower than native plugins, but for OSes that are new and don't have plugins, its a definite advantage

    Furthermore, regarding propietary, a Java plugin is a PROGRAM, not a FILE FORMAT. If they release the source (which I presume they will since its GPL and Open-Source) they its not exacly propietary. Anybody can look at it; Anybody can modify it, or tweak it.

    Overall, this would be very nice, especially for people running unpopular browsers that don't have many players yet
  • Hmmm... I just got Real Producer basic a few days ago and it had an option to encode for version 5.0+ instead of 8.

    By the way, try freespeech.org for free real media streaming - for non-profit ORGANIZATIONS (ie, not you and your clanmates).
  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:15AM (#260023) Homepage Journal
    It was always amazing to me how Realnetworks managed to convince the world that you had to use the PNM(Progressive Networks Media) protocol and their proprietary server to stream audio and video. I deployed some of their version 2 (vintage dark ages) server products - which cost us a fortune - and in the back of one of the technical references it mentions that little fact. "Oh, and if you're not actually streaming LIVE video content, then you can stream it via HTTP and you didn't have to spend XX thousands of dollars to buy our server. All you actually needed was the encoder. Sorry we didn't tell you before you bought".

    Now to be perfectly honest, I can't blame (the then named) Progressive Networks for not making this fact known. It was my inexperience with streaming media at that time that led me astray. It does however indicate the underlying business model they were using was based entirely in a fabrication. As I recall, the server, and not the encoder was the expensive part of the package we were sold.

  • by pyretic22 ( 247450 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @04:59AM (#260024)
    Also see the somewhat smaller but very cool streaming server http://ffmpeg.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net], supporting, mpeg video/audio, flash, real, multipart jpeg, single frame jpeg, asf, opendivx (not all the formats are working but the infrastructure is there)
  • You're not wasting time with all of these projects for media servers/clients. You're running a genetic algorithm to determine the best one, with 'fitness' determined by how many people end up using it or enhancing it. Group-based projects work when there's a consensus about what the final result should be, but until then this pseudo-GA method works well.
  • Well, I've been a great Mp3 fan from day three, and I rather like it. Recently I've noticed OGG popping up here and there, especcially, but not localized to, OGG Vorbis. So what do I do? I try a OV file on mpg123 - and hail mary, it does not work... didn't really expect it to either. So what I need is a console player that not only supports Mp3 *and* OggVorbis, but also WMA... anyone?
  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @05:02AM (#260027) Homepage
    Its nice to see someone on the Nix side of the world finally created that supports other file formats. Hey Real may have been nice in its opening months, but most of the times, videos were choppy, and sounds were awful. I'll tinker with this to try it out just for kicks, to compare them, and as for the sound issue, something I've wondered about for a while regarding video on the net...

    You would think on the net it would be easier for handicapped people to access hearing impaired type videos they normally wouldn't see on TV, yet I've yet to see one product come from Windows, or Real with captioning. Odd I would think someone could capture a nice little niche there and help a shitload of others out.

    Oh well...

    nice rack [antioffline.com]

  • I find this issue very confusing. I regularly see people putting down MPEG-4: lossy compression, lots of artifacts, etc.

    I've played around with video capture to DivX ;) quite a bit (but I don't post or trade it :) and I've downloaded a few DVD rips and vidcaps here and there. Practical experience tells me that these claims are nonsense. Some of the rips that are coming out right now using VBR are damn close to DVD quality. Really.

    Every (and I mean every) time I've downloaded a video capture done in MPEG-1 it's (1) huge and (2) full of godawful artifacts. They cannot go fullscreen without looking like shit. At the same time I can do my own captures direct to DivX ;) at 320x240 and put 30 minutes into less than 100 Megs and subsequently be able to blow it up to full screen with really minimal artifacts. Typically you can even read small fonts still.

    The dichotomy between the claims and my own experience leaves me feeling very puzzled...
  • YES! WHEN is there going to be a single multicasting standard that is usable over normal net connections? For streaming live video this is the only way to go - You just TRY to stream 8 live productions a day, each 1.5 hours long, to a total of 4000 people at a time, at a shitty 128 kbps. THEN try to pay the bandwidth bill at the end of the month. Coherent multicasting support in all routers will open up the world to easy, free live video.

  • Re:Big money for encoder / server??
    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, @10:35AM EDT

    The Quicktime Streaming Server is free and works on Linux, OS X and NT. The encoding software is around $199 (not 'big bucks' in my book) and you don't even need to upgrade Quicktime to 'Pro' for $30 to watch streaming content. I'm using this combination and it kicks ass! Easy, cheap and effective - I'm maxxing out my 100Mbit connection no problem on an older G3 mac.

    "Score:0"? This AC gives accurate information about Apple's software and he gets a "0"? Yet the article above [it] talks about the same thing with M$ and gets a "4". Bad karma indeed ...


  • Am I the only person who noticed that QuickTime 5.0.1 includes MPEG1 streaming? Still doesn't take care of it not running on Linux, but no price problems.
  • ... about Quicktime anyway: "Real & MS & QT give away the client, then charge big $$ for encoding/server software, which users don't realize but video people do" BZZTTT!!!! See http://www.apple.com/quicktime/products/qtss/ for full details, if you don't know already... And heck, if you are mad about the missing codecs (take that up with Sorenson, not Apple), then stream whatever you want! (Without getting into Open/Free tarbabies, let's just say "source available")
  • Not to mention, it's illegal (I think; if not it should be, because, after all it stolen from Microsoft). If you want to watch a DVD, buy it.

    More importantly to those with lax morals, MPEG 4 is extremely lossy. If you care one iota about video quality, you won't use it. All the MPEG4s I've watched are rat's nests of compression artifacts. They lapse in and out of severe pixelation, and there is a constant curtain of noise riding over the picture.

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